The Jonesville Comets celebrated Senior Night Monday by doing what no Comet team has ever done in the program’s history — beat heralded powerhouse Lenawee Christian.
Aggressive attacking from the get-go led to a 2-0 lead for Jonesville by the half, and strong efforts from several key Comet defenders helped hold off a Cougars squad hungry for a comeback in a scoreless final 40 minutes.
While Jonesville has one final home game Wednesday, this will be a win the senior class will remember more than most.
“We’ve always been trying to compete with Lenawee and with Jackson Christian as well, and I feel that we’re right there with them all the time. I’ve fought and fought and always tried to beat them and it’s the first time I’ve beaten them as a head coach, so it was a nice feeling for everybody,” Jonesville head coach Pat Bernklau said. “The downside is we won’t have all these seniors next year.”
In the first half it was a pair of seniors, Caleb Brown and Adam Thorp, causing havoc for almost the entire 40 minutes, utilizing a two-man game at times and counting on good passing from other teammates as they tried to spread the field out on other occasions.
On the first goal of the contest, Brown froze a defender in the corner of the goal box before rifling a strike across to Thorp who had an easy time of putting it in the back of the net.
That tally was at the 25:19 marker and barely three minutes later Brown was back to making magic with his feet.
This time he did the soccer equivalent of break-dancing past two defenders, as he pulled the ball back at the top of the box and jived his way back and forth through the Cougars’ final line of defense before putting it past the Lenawee keeper.
Thorp and Brown said the old cliche´ “practice makes perfect” has plenty to do with their success over the years.
“It’s because we were always coming down and practicing during the summer messing around. We’ve been best friends and been playing together since we were like eight,” Brown said. “We always know where each other are. During the summer we’ll always be down at the practice field and we just mess around with those moves and school each other, so it just becomes an instinct to you.”
Bernklau said his team executed his attack-first game-plan almost to a tee in the first half, but he felt his boys lost some of their tenacity in the second stanza.
The re-focused Cougars took advantage of that and they spent much of the second half on the offensive. Luckily for the Comets, seniors like Bryan Black and Kyle Flint made certain some of their final home memories were good ones.
Flint did a good job of just getting the ball out when danger was near, while Black was constantly reading situations and reacting before they came to fruition. It was nothing fancy, but a consistent reliability that frustrated Lenawee Christian by the end.
Bernklau said Black is the quiet guy who just does his job without hardly ever making a mistake.
“Brian…I don’t know how you ever replace that kid. It’s sad sometimes because he doesn’t get the credit back there he deserves,” he said. “He’s just a workhorse and he’s just stellar back there — very calm, very good. And Jerico (Kelley) has done pretty good back there in his first year and Kyle Flint rotates in that mix with Brian pretty well too.”
Thorp was just as complimentary of his fellow classmates.
“They’re great. Brian is always there when we need him and Kyle is backing him up,” he said “Last year, in the first three games I think Brian had almost as many saves as our keeper did.”
As far as keepers go, senior Logan Scaerer had a clean-sheet in net for the Comets.
Bernklau said this group of 11 seniors is one he’s had a lot of fun coaching, especially when things were going well.
“I love working with these guys, it’s been the most challenging group for me. They make me work real hard at practice sometimes, it’s very hard for me to keep them focused and motivated,” he said. “I told them I wanted to win the league with them and that didn’t happen, but we’d still like to win the ISL tournament and/or districts.”
With the win the Comets held onto third place in the Independent Soccer League, with an opportunity to tie Hillsdale Academy for second by the end of this week.